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October 19, 2011

Herman Cain Really Doesn't Know A Damn Thing About Foreign or Military Policy, Does He?

I find this baffling. Or, actually, I don't. I think I understand what happened here, and it's disqualifying for Cain.

First of all, watch the actual exchange:

How could a presidential candidate in the Republican Primary say he could see himself authorizing the release of all prisoners at Gitmo in exchange for one soldier?

Here's what I think happened. My starting assumption is that Cain knows almost nothing about Israel, except he "supports" it, because he's supposed to. He didn't know what the Right to Return was, for crying out loud, so this assumption is not implausible.

Wolf Blitzer begins by relating the news that Netanyahu authorized a deal for 1000 Palestinian terrorists for one soldier. So, Israel did this, and the one thing Cain knows is that he supports Israel, so he knows he's going to have to say something supportive.

So when Blitzer asks the hypothetical -- "Would you do something like this? Would you release all the terrorists at Gitmo in exchange for one soldier?" -- Cain answers, almost proudly, "I could make that call if I had to."

This is bizarre. The things Cain says about the world outside of "9-9-9" are bizarre. They seem entirely disconnected from any set of facts or principles the rest of us recognize. He literally seems to be making it all up on the fly, and I mean all, so when he's asked a question like this, all he knows about the situation is literally just that which was contained in the question.

There is no mention here -- none! -- of the so-famous-even-third-graders-know-it dictum that "one never negotiates with terrorists." From the outset, he's just talking about whether the numbers are right (he says that exchanging one for "hundreds" may not seem to make sense).

I wouldn't have a problem if, after noting that dictum, he said something like, "I could see the plight of one man weighing so heavily on my mind that I'd have to fight the urge to do something like this, so I can understand Netanyahu's problem." Or something like that.

But instead he's just straight-up willing -- even eager -- to make this exchange.

Now later, after having been informed (as was the case with his Right of Return botch) that he had sort of missed a very basic premise of American foreign policy, he's now talking up the Don't Negotiate With Terrorists line, but I'm sorry, he simply did not even think of this when he was asked by Blitzer if he would negotiate with terrorists.

He was literally guessing what the "Right Answer" was, and guessed, incorrectly, that the "Right Answer" would always involve saying "Israel did the right thing.'

This is so jaw-droppingly uninformed I don't know what the hell else to say about it.

Cain cannot keep telling us he'll have "experts" brief him on the stuff that a reasonably well-informed sixth-grader should already know. Like, no need to know any of this beforehand, I guess. "Experts" will fill him in on an as-needed basis, I guess.

Here's an idea -- he can actually read those "experts" now, in terms of the basics of American foreign policy for the last five decades, and on emerging threats in the future. These "experts" have all sorts of means for communicating their "expertise" -- now.

He does not have to wait for a Secret Presidential Briefing in order to avail himself of the most basic knowledge of foreign policy.

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posted by Ace at 12:40 PM

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